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16 years have gone by. I still regret having ever watched or read what you wrote about my body hair. You made me became more self-conscious about the way I looked. I was very embarrassed about my leg hair.Too embarrassed to ask for a razor to shave with, I ended up shaving with a razor. When it grew again it was much more and came with rash.
You fueled my education in self-hatred from girlhood to teen-hood to womanhood. You came from all directions and never relented. Every magazine I thumbed through, every advertisement I was exposed to, every TV show, every movie taught me that hair on my legs was a mistake that needed correcting. You make us believe we must alter and restrict and mutilate ourselves before anyone will acknowledge our humanity.
You make us ashamed of our body hair that grows on us naturally, which is absurd. We spend time and money shaving off all of our hair without even thinking we have a choice. Society tells us we’re supposed to be totally hairless. Not because we had to keep them nice and neat for hygienic reasons.
I thank God for the day I met Mr. X. He told me a woman is not allowed to let hair grow on her legs. He even went on to cite an example of a lady who had to shave her legs to obtain a job. Unlike other times when I was embarrassed and had to shrink in self-hatred but I stood up to him and said I don’t have to get rid of the things that make me who I am to be appreciated or valued by a man.
That day marked a new beginning and freedom from your tyranny. My mindset about myself, my body and all God has given to me changed. I pledged to love who God has made me (fearfully and wonderfully) and to carry my head up high. When I walk the streets I draw my strength from accepting myself for who I am. I choosed henceforth to genuinely love me and live from that perspective.
Permit me to assume that you, too, maybe had been subjected to a moment of body-shaming propaganda of some sort. How deeply did these messages infiltrate you, to make you defensive at the sight of an unaltered female body? To make you hate me that hard?
I didn’t create myself, if you lost sight of that for a moment. Am not that ungrateful to not appreciate who I am. Its my responsibility to be decent and neat but I refuse to submit myself to your definition of who a woman should be.
Deep down, we can be as modern and liberal as the next person. We understand the importance of freedom of expression, breaking gender cliches, not conforming to social pressures, and of being comfortable in your own skin. But don’t get me wrong because if we’re honest – really honest – few of us would say we prefer a hairy leg to a shaved one. Some men would no doubt say they find it disgusting.
I Dare to hope.
Today i say to all women when i get the opportunity, we can learn how to stop perpetuating this toxicity from our dominant and anti-female culture.
We can learn how to support and love and be awestruck by each other.
More importantly,let’s be the ones to treat each other as human,when no one else will. We can do better. I hope one day you know a love of your body so boundless and intoxicating that it emanates from your eyes, your smile, your skin, and graces every person who has the privilege of walking by you.
Your presence in the world will let girls and women know that they have the right to give their bodies a chance, and stop conforming to the absurd standards.
I hope you’ll become a catalyst of self-acceptance, inspiring one girl, who inspires her friends, who inspire their teachers, who inspire more women, who inspire their daughters, and their daughters, and their daughters…
We all will be free enough to be comfortable in our bodies and not let dictates of men and cultures decide for us how we should appear, feel and be in our own bodies.
I dare to hope…